The Colorado Avalanche entered Monday's outing at the San Jose Sharks with the mindset that each game remaining in the regular season carried a noteworthy level of importance. After the final whistles of the day's games, the standings race in the West Division continued to get even tighter.
Down by two goals twice in their matchup, the Avs rallied from deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 in the third period to defeat the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, picking up a valuable two points at SAP Center.
Valeri Nichushkin, Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri all found the back of the net in the final frame of regulation before Andre Burakovsky netted the game-winner just 41 seconds into the extra stanza.
"It was a really big one," Burakovsky said of the game. "I mean at the end here we want to be first place in the league, and I think this was a must-win for us. We talked about it. We need to come out harder, we needed to leave everything we have on the ice in the third period. Even though we were down, there was no doubt. We were going to find a way to get this done, and we did. Great job from everyone in the room just sticking with it. It was fun to play, and it was fun to watch."
Video: COL@SJS: Burakovsky wins it in OT to complete rally
Colorado (72 points) is now two points behind the West Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights (74) but has played one fewer game and will face the Knights once more before the conclusion of the regular season.
During the Avalanche's outing in San Jose, Vegas fell in regulation to the Minnesota Wild (70 points), closing the gap on the top 3 teams in the West, all of whom are within to four points of one another.
"I loved our response in the third period. Just a heightened sense of urgency, a little bit of desperation in our game… My belief was we were there to work and skate, and we needed to turn up that competitiveness a little bit and we had to be way better with the puck and the guys responded," said head coach Jared Bednar. "They knew how big of a game it was for us because we had seen that Minnesota had come back to win in regulation. So, fighting to stay ahead of them and also pull within two points of Vegas if we won. The guys were fired up for the third period to get out there, and we believed we could get the job done. The [Sharks'] fourth goal kind of took a little bit of wind out of our sails, but we answered right back to make it 4-3 and had a real strong third and finished up that game. Kudos to our guys for being able to get the job done after not playing a full 60 minutes."
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar on the comeback win vs. Sharks
It was the third time this season that the Avalanche had battled back from a two-goal deficit, matching its biggest comeback of the year.
Colorado had previously won twice after finding itself down by two goals, with both games coming against the Anaheim Ducks. The Avs were behind 2-0 but earned a 3-2 overtime victory on March 5 and trailed 4-2 before winning 8-4 on March 16.
"At the end of the day it definitely wasn't our best game, but certainly a character win," said Nazem Kadri. "Just being able to overcome a two-goal deficit in the third period, get one late, cash in in OT. Definitely a pesky win for us."
KADRI TIES IT LATE
Nazem Kadri found the back of the net in the final four minutes of regulation to tie the game with a sharp-angle shot that went top shelf. He finished the contest with seven shot attempts, seven faceoff wins and one blocked shot in 15:40 of ice time.
"That felt good, it felt good for sure," said Kadri. "Just the time of the game and you know obviously we needed a goal. The guys on the team just kept encouraging me to shoot it and finally one went in."
Video: COL@SJS: Kadri goes upstairs to tie game in 3rd
Kadri now has 11 goals and 18 assists in 50 contests this year, one point shy of the ninth 30-point campaign of his career.
"He is definitely a big player for us, a player that we really need and rely on a lot," Burakovsky said of his teammate. "Just to be able to see him get it to go in and get such a big goal for us when he has been having a little bit of unluck lately and the puck hasn't really gone in for him, it was really nice to see it go in for him and I was pumped for him for sure."
DUBNYK IN PROTOCOL
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk was added to the NHL's COVID-protocol list after testing positive prior to the game and will be unable to practice, travel or play with the team until he is removed from the list.
Acquired by the Avalanche from the Sharks on April 10, he has played in five games with Colorado and is 3-2-0 in those outings.
He will stay at his previous residence in San Jose while he quarantines, with the current plan being for him to drive back to Denver once he is able to rejoin the team.
MORE POSTGAME NOTES
The Avs are 6-1-0 against San Jose this season with the final game of the eight-game season series set for Wednesday at SAP Center.
Colorado scored five or more goals for the 13th time this season. The Avs' 3.52 average goals per game is the most in the league.
Mikko Rantanen scored his 29th goal of the season, which ranks third in the NHL. He extended his point streak to three games (three goals, four assists) and has multiple points in each of the last five games he has appeared in, collecting 11 points (six goals, five assists) in that span.
Rantanen, who entered tonight's game tied with Tyson Barrie (307) for ninth place on the Avs' scoring list, finished with two points (one goal, one assist) and now has 309 in his career, taking sole possession of ninth in scoring since the team moved to Denver.
Video: COL@SJS: Rantanen buries rebound after face-off win
Nathan MacKinnon had two assists to extend his road point streak to a career-high 17 games (eight goals, 19 assists). It is the second-longest road point streak in franchise history as Peter Stastny had a 23-game stretch with the Quebec Nordiques from Oct. 14, 1983-Jan. 29, 1984.
MacKinnon has 36 points as a visitor this season, the second-most in the NHL.
It was MacKinnon's second straight multi-point game and his 20th of the season. He finished with nine shots for the second consecutive contest, and his 202 shots this season rank third in the NHL.
Philipp Grubauer earned his 27th victory of the season and ranks second in the league in wins and fifth in goals-against average (2.00).